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Paris Outskirts: Oise (thrill rides and castles)

Paris is beautiful. No doubt about it. Beautiful parks, amazing Haussmanian architecture, famous monuments, delicious food, fashionable people. But do you know any thing at all about the banlieues (suburbs) and the districts close to Paris?

Paris. We’ve all seen the thousands of photos shared on social media. We all know what the Eiffel tower looks like. And the Louvre too. And most of us Francophiles have heard the song “Champs-Élysées” and have either been – or want to go – shopping on this famous boulevard. “Now I feel like a real Parisian,” I heard one tourist say out loud as she let her friend hold her fancy shoppingbag from Ladurée – containing overpriced macarons- while she was trying on a beret from a souvenir stand. She was probably the kind of tourist who came to Paris determined to visit the same sites, do the same things, and share almost identical photos with others who had been there and done that before her. Or maybe she wasn’t like that at all. Maybe she just didn’t know any better. Maybe she even wanted to befriend locals and get to know the REAL Paris. Maybe even….the towns and villages close to Paris? Certain Parisians would probably burst out laughing and tell you you’re wasting your time exploring the suburbs, when everything you need is right there, in the centre of Paris. Others would encourage you to see absolutely everything and maybe even offer to come with you. Me, I am a curious soul, interested in seeing every corner of France – and not just the ones mentioned in glossy magazines. 

Before I moved to Paris, I was completely unaware of all the amazing places located only a stone’s throw away from the big city. Parks as beautiful as the ones in Paris, enchanting castles, charming little villages, lovely cafes and restaurants. It’s enough to make you wanna book a flight to Paris – without even visiting Paris.

I will write about each department individually, as this post would seem never-ending, otherwise. You see, the outskirts of Paris have quite a lot to offer!

First, I’ll take you a bit further than just a stone’s throw away, but still not too far to qualify for a spot in this series:

Oise

Parc Asterix

Oise (named after the river Oise) is a department 84 km north of Paris. The biggest tourist attraction of the department is also one of the most visited annually by locals; Parc Asterix – a theme park based on the stories of Asterix (a series of French comics). The park has a large variety of roller coasters as well as many other attractions and shows.

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Beauvais

If you’re flying to Paris with Ryan Air, you’ll be arriving in Beauvais, which serves as the capital of the Oise department. I have never been to Beauvais myself, but I’d love to visit the city’s spectacular gothic cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Beauvais)  and photograph the facade of the Museum of the Oise Department, which is a museum in the former bishop’s palace and is classified as a historical monument. And why not visit one of the expositions at the museum while you’re there?

Senlis

Medieval town Senlis is another destination you should add to your list. Visit the impressive, Gothic cathedral – a national monument of France. The ruins of the Royal Castle is also worth seeing. The actual castle dates back from the 1200’s. Once you’ve visited the cathedral and the castle ruins, sit down and relax with a glass of red or white in one of the local restaurants.

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Château de Pierrefonds

Another must-see is the Château de Pierrefonds, a beautiful medieval castle built between the late 1300’s-early 1400’s. I visited the castle last year, and coincidentally  got there in time for the local medieval festival. I bought myself some souvenirs and farmers produce from the festival market and enjoyed a tasty crêpe to-go!

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Château de Chantilly

Last but not least, Château de Chantilly, a historical castle located in the town of Chantilly. The chateau houses the Musée Condé, which is one of the finest art galleries in France and is open to the public.The park is a French formal garden, which is the same style of garden as the ones of Versailles. While visiting the beautiful garden, we saw happy newlyweds posing for photos, using the gorgeous nature as a backdrop for their wedding photographs. The estate overlooks the Chantilly Racecourse (Hippodrome de Chantilly) , and the Great Stables. Make sure you check out the equestrian shows and demonstrations while you’re there. It’s great fun to watch!

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Château de Montvillargenne

Would you and your significant other like a romantic celebration at a 4-star spa hotel? Then check out Château de Montvillargenne. My partner and I celebrated our one year anniversary at this luxurious chateau. They have an indoor swimming pool, sauna, Turkish bath and they offer a variety of spa treatments – including a duo massage for couples (we tried it, we loved it!). The rooms are neat, the interior is modern and the restaurant serves fine gourmet cuisine. If you’re already in the neighborhood and if you have the budget for it – why not spoil yourself a little?

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Château d’Ermenonville

Set in a medieval chateau, this sophisticated hotel château d’Ermenonville is located in a calm environment – in the heart of the Ermenonville forest, overlooking the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Park. The restaurant has a good reputation and I’d love to dine there someday soon. Just waiting for yet another special occasion.

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And you, will I see you in the department of Oise?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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19 comments on “Paris Outskirts: Oise (thrill rides and castles)

  1. camillariis

    Cute place to visit outside of the Parisian crowd. I will definitely have to check it out on my next trip to Paris. Thanks for the tip 🙂
    Did you try any good restaurant? Local food that you’d recommend?

    Camilla | http://cammi.dk

    • For an upscale romantic evening, I recommend the restaurant in château de Montvillargenne (classic french cuisine). As for local products, french style whipped cream (Chantilly) comes from Chantilly, and you’ll find it on any dessert menu and from foodtrucks/stands outside of the castle there 🙂 in Senlis there are plenty of restaurants – considering the small size of the town. When in France, enjoy apéro before having dinner somewhere, for the complete cultural experience. Apéro can be a glass of wine and a sharing platter of cheese or deli meats 🙂

  2. Such a unique list – I love it. The architecture is truly amazing and alone worthy of the trip to Oise. Thanks for putting this creative list together. I will certainly bookmark it for future reference!

    • I’ll do more posts about other departments close to Paris, as well 🙂 But Oise is definitely the most interesting one – although Marne-la-Vallée is quite interesting too (it’s where Disneyland is).

  3. Parc Asterix looks like so much fun, a perfect day out! The Château de Montvillargenne looks so pretty and like something from a fairy tale! Great post1

  4. I didn’t know there are so many lovely castles around Paris! Now I know what to do if I ever get bored in the city!

  5. The architecture is stunning! These are my favorite subjects to shoot whenever I am on travel!

    Abigail of GlobalGirlTravels.com

  6. We are soon headed to Paris, we will love to visit that castle. I am going to save your post for future reference

  7. I can feel how much you love this place. I would absolutely agree, every part is worth exploring. Your suggestions are interesting and I hope to see at least few of them!

  8. Such eye catching photos! Great list I am doing through France next year and you’ve given me a great list of places to visit, would be awesome to take a step back in time 🙂

  9. I love these suggestions! Still very french and charming but much less touristy and cliche! How beautiful! The gardens and architecture are absolutely gorgeous!

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